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Herriman Wins Boys Open 7s in Dramatic Style

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Herriman Wins Boys Open 7s in Dramatic Style

Herriman HS of Utah won the Boys Open HS 7s Friday at the Las Vegas Invitational, going 6-0 and beating four select sides in the process.

Herriman defeated the Tennessee Tri-Stars, Mavericks, and Las Vegas Blackhawks Thursday to make the semifinals. 

On Friday, the squad took on Eastern Ontario in the quarterfinals. Herriman showed patience against a talented and tough EORU outfit. Coach Jeff Wilson said they forced the issue somewhat on the first day of action, but that wasn’t the case on Friday. Herriman was also playing without Brig Rush - injured on Thursday - but filled in ably, winning 33-14.

In the semis, Herriman beat Rigby Royals. Rigby was very fast and forced Herriman to make repeated cover tackles and work their way back out of their end. Ultimately, Herriman finished the stronger. Anthony Perschon and Karson Hammer were outstanding, and Tomasi Tonga was a key impact sub, scoring a try and forcing two turnovers in the final five minutes.

Meanwhile, the British Columbia Elite Youth 7s program ran a 3rd side in the Open 7s, and after beating Rugby Virginia Blue in the quarters, edged Rock Rugby 24-22 to make the final.

This set up the championship game between BCEY and Herriman, a select side against a single-school program missing four of its best players due to call ups from other teams.

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“The final was everything that a cup final should be,” said Wilson. BC was very structured, but Herriman’s was patient on defense, and also when they got the ball. Tonga and Zak Barker scored early, but BC rebounded. The Canadian team put the pressure on the Utah team, forced a series of penalties, and tapped quickly each time to keep Herriman backpedaling. It was smart rugby and at half-time BC had scored three tries and led 19-10.

But Herriman got a talking-to from captain Jaeron Masina, was played very well for the team and showed his leadership, reminding his teammates that there was a whole half to go (actually more in that the final was ten-minute halves), and that the team had come back to win finals three times in the Utah fall 7s series, and they could do it again.

Preston Miranda came on as a sub, stoled a pass, sidestepped around some defenders, and put on the gas to score and make it 19-17. Ian Abbott, another sub, made an impact. Those subs were key because as the game went past 14 minutes, fatigue was a factor. Both teams started to make mistakes, and Herriman started to capitalize. Junior hooker Gabe Mahuinga, who had also toured BC with the EIRA U16s over the summer, turned the game around with a key play.

Mahuinga stole the ball, burst up the middle. He was tripped up, and from the ground popped the ball up, where it found its way to Tonga’s hands. The big Herriman runner had maybe one more run in him, and he put all his remaining energy into chugging down the sideline and into the corner.

That was it, 22-19 for Herriman. it was a thrilling game, and a game worthy of a very good BC team, also.

Herriman’s Red team also did well, finishing the day 3-2, losing in the Cup Quarterfinals, but winning their consolation game over Virginia Blue to finish tied with the Arizona Bobcats for 5th. 

“I am so proud of both of our teams for their performances,” said Wilson. “It was an awful tall task to bring down two teams from a single high school and compete against All-Star teams at every turn, but that is why we chose to compete in this tournament. We knew we would be tested and we would find out what we are made of.  We could not ask for a better tournament experience put on by Jon Hinkin and his staff, and this is a great springboard in to 15s season.”

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